Buying a Car
Car Shopping 101
While shopping for a vehicle is exciting, it can also be complicated and time-consuming. Don’t make a hasty mistake you’ll end up paying for in the long run.
Do Your Homework Before You Shop
Car, Truck, SUV or Crossover?
If you aren’t sure yet, consider what type of vehicle suits your lifestyle and budget. Make sure you understand all the pros and cons associated with your vehicle class including gas mileage, safety, ease of parking and cargo space. Also consider if your needs and priorities could shift over the next few years. (Carseats can be a game changer.) Talk to friends with similar needs who were in your shoes just a few years ago and learn from their experiences.
Determine Your Budget & Get Pre-Approved
Figure out what you have for a down payment and what a comfortable monthly payment would be. Don’t forget to factor insurance costs into your budget as well, especially if this is your first car or if you’re making a significant upgrade. If you don’t have a budget, learn more about managing money. Once you determine what you can afford, get pre-approved for your auto loan. And remember, just because you’re pre-approved doesn’t mean you have to spend that much!
Research Your Vehicles of Choice
Learn as much about the vehicles that interest you before you head to the dealership or answer a used car ad. Understand what types of options are available — these can have a huge impact on value. Find out if the vehicle has any common problems you need to avoid. Plan to shop and test drive multiple makes and models to get the best deal.
Take a Test Drive
Compare the makes and models you’re considering during your test drives. See if the vehicle has what you need in these categories:
- interior room and cargo space
- safety features
- ease of entry and exit
- local parts and service
- a solid warranty
Be on the lookout for:
- excessive wind or engine noise
- heavy or imprecise steering
- sloppy fit (trim, molding, etc.)
- unreadable instruments
- clumsy controls or levers
Confirm the car fits your lifestyle. Will your luggage fit in the trunk? Are there enough seats for those you will transport on a regular basis?
Finally, ask the salesperson to be silent during much of the test drive so that you get the proper feedback from the vehicle.
Get the Best Deal
Check out the Kelly Blue Book to understand how various options and mileage affect the value of a vehicle. Be sure to factor the condition of a used vehicle and consider if you’ll need to do any work to it. Before you sign on the dotted line, get a CarFax Report. This will not only confirm all the options on the vehicle, but will also tell you if it’s been in any accidents.
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Get a Great Auto Loan
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